Young Tribal Leaders Fly The Little Colorado River

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Young Tribal Leaders Fly The Little Colorado River

Date: 07/22/2022     State: AZ     Issues: Mining, Renewable Energy, Student Education, Watersheds     Partners: Colorado Plateau Foundation, Grand Canyon Trust, Save the Confluence Airport Origin : Tusayan, AZ    


Take young Tribal leaders to the sky to view the Little Colorado River and areas of cultural value from above. Provide aerial education during a multi-day event aimed to educate Tribal young adults on the threats dam pose to this sacred landscape.

The Little Colorado River (LCR), and surrounding lands are the spiritual and cultural homelands of multiple Native American Tribes. Indigenous peoples live in the region and have relied on the LCR to drink, cook, and farm, as well as for ceremonial and cultural uses.

We flew over sacred lands and ancestral settlements. The river and surrounding region is scattered with shrines and areas of ceremonial practice. Hydroelectric projects jeopardize these culturally significant Tribal lands, the LCR, and sensitive species.

A Phoenix-based company, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC, withdrew two hydroelectric proposals for projects on the LCR, but has one remaining application for Big Canyon, a tributary canyon adjacent to the LCR. If approved, four dams will be constructed entirely on Tribal land. 14.3 billion gallons of groundwater will be pumped from the same aquifer that feeds springs along the LCR, depleting the river's water source during a period of drought. Additionally, the dams operational processes will annually lose more than 3 billion gallons of groundwater to evaporation - while many surrounding Tribal communities bear the heavy burden of drought and lack access to running water. The Big Canyon dam project overlooks Indigenous communities and will disrupt the spiritual and cultural practices of people who have called the Grand Canyon home since time immemorial. Sacred places where ceremonies are conducted, prayers are held, and people come to reflect and find peace would be destroyed by flooding, industrialization, and noise. Protection from hydroelectric projects is needed to safeguard the watershed, ecosystem, and cultural heritage of the Grand Canyon.

Click for aerial photos from the previous day's Little Colorado River overflights

Flight Images

Flight Location